where I grew up, there wasn’t much to do. It wasn’t within walking distance to a park, and no one I knew had a pool. “The field” was where my friends and I spent stifling summer afternoons practicing cartwheels and running through sprinklers. My house was right next to the field, which meant that all of the neighborhood kids came to my house to swing on the swing set and take breaks for popsicles. When darkness fell we’d run home with gummy fingers and gleaming foreheads to gather flashlights and jars for capturing fireflies. When I ran away from home when I was four years old, I packed a suitcase filled with plastic play food, my ballet costume, and a toothbrush, then sat in the middle of the field until my parents retrieved me. Looking back, it is hard to conceive that the same docile earth my friends and I plucked flowers from was laden with 12 inches of arsenic. My parents bought the house that abutted this field in 1990. Their first, it was a brick, single-family home, less than a year old and located in Burlington, NJ. It had been a model home, an exhibit for interested buyers. It had a sprawling backyard, large enough to accommodate a big, wooden swing set, walk-through garden, and a brick patio, and still have room for lawn parties. We were the last house of the cul-de-sac, so our property was fenced by a thicket of pine and maple trees, which, in autumn, supplied great leaf piles for jumping into. Historically, Burlington County, New Jersey, had been one of the state’s foremost agricultural counties. In 1940, Burlington County had 7,600 fruit orchards. By 1992, the year we moved in, that number had been whittled down to 745. And it wasn’t just the orchards that vanished. It seemed that each year
Alina O’Donnell is a junior at the University of Delaware, where she is majoring in English and Environmental Studies. Aside from contributing to the Review newspaper and Deconstruction magazine, Alina has worked as a tutor at her university’s writing center since her sophomore year. She has also been interning with Community Energy Inc., a developer and marketer of renewable energy, for the past year. When she graduates next May, Alina hopes to marry her two passions and work as an environmental reporter.